So some women in China, recently flashed their armpit hair for a competition, which got me thinking,what is expected of women in China when it comes to having hair under there?
Do they shave? If you’re a Chinese woman, do you shave?
I’d love to know because data on this is so limited.
But it seems that, in general, Chinese women don’t really shave their armpits.
Although, things are starting to change.
“Growing up, I’d watched older girls walk around with hair peeking out of their armpits.
Chinese tradition had no demands in this respect,armpit or leg hair was just part of your body and nothing to be ashamed about,” says one Chinese woman of her experience in the early 2000s.
But today, some reports say that about 40 percent of Chinese women shave, noting these women tend to be younger and of higher socioeconomic status.
As one 40-year-old house cleaner in China puts it, shaving is "for girls with money and influence.”
But for Xiao Meili, the competition’s founder, it’s about so much more than that. It’s about agency.
Women should have the right to decide how to deal with their bodies, including small details like armpit hair.
You can choose to shave it, but you shouldn't be forced to do so under the pressure of stereotypes.
Her advocacy for gender equality in the hair department, stems in part from increasing Western pressures to groom.
But how did this difference come about in the first place?
Why is it that about 80 percent of women in the United States report shaving when the majority of Chinese women do not?
Well first, shaving for women didn’t really become a thing until 1915 or so, but over the years, hairless bodies became the norm.
To the point that today, women who don’t shave are viewed as more aggressive and even immoral.
China, however, was largely isolated from the US when these ideas were taking hold;
So, they were not exposed to the same pressures and ideologies.
And, most traditional dress included sleeves that covered the underarms;
during the era of Kaifang women were encouraged to appear androgynous with the Mao jacket and Lenin coat，shaving wasn’t fashionable like it was in the Western world.
Even with all the Western influence today, Chinese women are actively encouraged not to shave.
Some doctors deem hair removal unhealthy and others view it as bad luck.
Globally, we have a complicated relationship with hair，glorifying the locks atop our heads while literally burning it off at the legs.
Clearly, when it comes to underarm hair, this relationship is even hairier，but the question still remains, why are we so obsessed with hair in the first place?
I would love to know your thoughts.